Fri | Oct 23, 2020

Samuda: Don’t be ungrateful to our seniors

Published:Saturday | September 26, 2020 | 12:08 AMPaul Clarke/Gleaner Writer

Minister of Labour and Social Security Karl Samuda has committed to the revision and implementation of the National Policy for Senior Citizens.

Samuda, who was making his first presentation as the new portfolio minister, said the framework of the policy is to ensure that there is no discrimination against the elderly and that they are treated with respect.

“This will allow them to live and participate actively in a society that guarantees their rights, recognises their capabilities, and facilitates their enjoyment of a life of fulfilment, health and security,” he said.

Samuda was the keynote speaker at yesterday’s virtual launch of Senior Citizens’ Week 2020, under the theme ‘Advancing the Health and Well-being of Older Persons amid COVID-19’.

It is the second time in two years that a public commitment has been made promising a review of the policy.

In 2018, the then minister, Shahine Robinson, underscored the need for a greater appreciation of the work and worth of senior citizens. She said that a review, which was pending, would have provided improved social-protection measures.

Samuda stated that the ministry was also in the process of implementing a social pension to provide well-needed assistance for persons who are unable to receive National Insurance Scheme or the Programme of Advancement Through Health and Education benefits.

“It is part of the Government’s move to provide a social safety net for the most vulnerable seniors in our society,” he said.

“Seniors have played a significant role in the growth and development of the country; let us not be ungrateful for their contribution and for all they have done to bring us here at this time.”

Ministry placing greater emphasis on seniors

He further said that the Ministry of Labour and Social Security, through the National Council for Senior Citizens and its partners, would be placing greater emphasis on senior citizens and the need for preventative and transformative actions to support their health and well-being.

About 12.6 per cent of the Jamaican population, or some 400,000, is categorised as senior citizens. The demographic accounts for the majority of deaths associated with COVID-19.

Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Colette Roberts Risden, said the ministry, through its various programmes and services, has been doing its part in responding to the socio-economic needs of the country’s seniors.

She noted that the ministry was committed to advancing the health and well-being of all senior citizens.

The calendar of events for Senior Citizens’ Week includes the National Grandparents’ Day and the National Church Service, to be held Sunday, September 27, at the Phillippo Baptist Church in Spanish Town.

Seniors’ Appreciation Day will be observed on Tuesday, September 29, with a parish tree-planting exercise scheduled for Wednesday, while October 1 will be celebrated as International Day of the Older Persons.

paul.clarke@gleanerjm.com